The Education Ministry has completed a list of foods that will be banned in vending machines in schools. The list includes the typical junk-food items, foods high in sugar, energy drinks, caffeine but also dressings, mayo, mustard and ketchup which are traditionally used in sandwiches. The civic initiative For a Healthy School Environment has high praise for the proposal. A law banning unhealthy foods in schools went into effect late last year but has not been implemented in practice since there was no list specifying which foods were considered unhealthy. Schools will be given a period of grace in which to make the transition.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek has expressed concern regarding the possible break-up of Schengen and the renewal of internal borders within the EU. Speaking at a meeting of former Czech EU commissioners in Prague, Minister Zaorálek said internal border renewal would not only break up the European Union but seriously undermine NATO since EU member states would have difficulties fulfilling their commitments within the military alliance. The minister pointed out that if member states had to protect their internal borders they would not be able to deploy their troops in allied units. Minister Zaorálek said the crises through which the EU had passed in recent years revealed that one of its biggest problems was a lack of action-capability, which could only be overcome by greater involvement on the part of all member states.
The Czech Republic may fail to draw approximately the equivalent of 10 billion crowns from EU structural funds allotted to the country in 2015, according to the minister for regional development, Karla Šlechtová. Minister Šlechtová said this was a positive result in view of the fact that the original estimate of the money which would most likely be lost to the country was 36 billion crowns. Ms Šlechtová said it was the higher estimate which led President Milos Zeman to criticize the Sobotka government for allegedly failing to deliver on its promise to improve the drawing of EU funds. She said that according to her own personal estimate the money lost might even drop to 8 billion.
Police are searching for the parents of a baby boy who was abandoned at the railway station in the town of Most on Wednesday evening, the ctk news agency reported. The baby was taken to hospital for observation but does not appear to have suffered as a result of exposure. Police were alerted to the child by passers-by.
Police report a heighted number of accidents due to icy roads. Dozens of accidents were reported on Friday morning in the Karlovy Vary, Plzen and Vysočina regions. Black ice also caused a pile-up that closed part of the Prague ring road for over an hour on Friday morning. Six cars crashed after one driver skidded on a patch of black ice. Three people, including an eleven-year-old child were hospitalized with serious injuries. Police have advised extra caution in view of the adverse weather conditions.
Czech political parties are planning to spend tens of millions of crowns on campaigning in the autumn Senate and regional elections, the ctk news agency reports. The Christian Democrats and Mayors have earmarked 15 million crowns in election expenditures, TOP 09 is expecting to spend tens of millions, the Communist Party says its expenditures will reach twenty billion while the Dawn Party expects to spend ten million. All parties running in the elections have said they will set up transparent accounts, ctk says.
Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has said he wants the bill on electronic registers approved by Parliament by the end of January. The finance minister said the coalition government would do everything in its power to see this come about, even if it had to use its majority in the lower house to end the protracted debate on the bill and call a vote. The three ruling parties have enough votes to see the bill through. Meanwhile, the opposition right wing parties which have used filibustering tactics to block the bill for months threaten to take the matter to the Constitutional Court if the coalition enforces a vote.
Air pollution in the Moravia-Silesia region has severly worsened in the past 24 hours, the Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute reported on Friday. The amount of dust particles in the air is now reported to be up to four times higher than permitted levels. Chronically ill people, children and the elderly have been advised to stay indoors and keep windows closed until the situation improves. The eastern part of the Czech Republic is one of Europe’s most polluted regions due to heavy industry located on both sides of the Czech-Polish border. Air pollution is a problem especially in the winter months, when the situation is aggravated by coal heating.
Writer Petr Šabach has been presented the Karel Čapek Award by the Czech Pen Club. Mr. Šabach, who is 64, is one of the country’s most popular writers. He has authored 11 books to date, mostly tragi-comical stories about the time of communist totality in Czechoslovakia. Many of them have been turned into films, such as Big Beat, I’m All Good or Pupendo. The Karel Čapek Award was established by the Pen Club’s Czech branch in 1994 and is presented to outstanding writers every two years. Among previous holders of the award are the former president and writer Václav Havel, Arnošt Lustig and Ivan Klíma.
The turnover of Czech internet retailers in 2015 rose by 20 percent year-on year to a record amount of 25 billion crowns, the Association for Electronic Commerce announced on Thursday. This year, domestic e-commerce turnover is expected to grow at least by another 15 percent, reaching 100 billion crowns. According to the head of APEK, Jan Vetyška, the Christmas season contributed to nearly a third of the overall sales. Consumer electronics, mobile phones, toys and clothing were traditionally among the best-selling goods.